Stephen A. Smith is a sports talk show host and TV personality for ESPN – largely known for his boisterous and highly opinionated disposition when it comes to everything from sports to politics and really anything in between. Some may even go so far as to say that his rather outlandish style is downright annoying or perhaps over the top. So much so that even when he does have a valid point it can be lost within the verbal chaos of the emotional outbursts which he is given to by nature.
I actually do not watch his show – First Take – on ESPN due the aforementioned theatrics – not that I have anything against him or his co-hosts – it’s just that the program is not my “cup of tea”. However, from time to time I may chance upon it while flipping through the channels which happened just the other day. As I tuned in he happened to be offering up an opinion about what he perceived to be excess adulation of a well-known sports figure whom he believed was not deserved based on his performance and then linked that subject matter to a particular racial aspect that touched on “white privilege”. As Stephen A., who happens to be black, finished his comment, another analyst, who happens to be white, responded that he did not believe race was involved – found the idea absurd in fact.
Stephen A. then basically went nuclear. While screaming he exclaimed: “Don’t tell me how to feel”, “You don’t know how black people think since you are not black”, etc. etc. I cringed at the sight and sound of his reprisal. My first thought was…there is a MUCH better way to disagree or get your point across than to launch tomahawk missiles and go ballistic Mr. Smith (See: President Trump)! In fact, the individuals you need to reach the most are probably unable to actually hear you for all the antics (is what I was thinking as I cringed even further). And if that is true then what is the point, after all? He was simply going on a tirade that will result in the people who need to hear his point the most likely thinking that he is a few cards short of a full deck or at the very least may have turned them off causing them to turn the channel.
One of the most significant strides that we can make in America regarding race is to be able to listen to one another with an open mind and a willing spirit of brotherhood. This begins first and foremost by seeking the truth. And, then secondly, we have to be able to actually hear one another. We should listen to each other because at the end of the day we should have the same goal in mind racially speaking which is basically to find common ground. Third, we should allow all parties to speak what is on their mind. If one does not feel as though they can respond to the other without enraging that individual – a natural reluctance to speak is inevitable which is innately counter-productive.
Negative issues surrounding race are very real in America and beyond – of this there is no doubt. I’d be the first to stand up and say that is frustrating to hear people who do not face these issues deny this simple truth. However, I cannot see the value in berating those who cannot yet see the light (not speaking about straight up racist people here you understand – that is another animal). Instead, those of us who are aware of or who face discrimination and prejudiced acts must look for constructive ways to bid they come out of the dark hallways of ignorance and denial and into the marvelous light of opportunity and revelation – one by one. And to that point, it is often not about how loud you say it, but how you say it, that in the end gets the job done. I do not question Stephen A’s sincerity or passion – nor that of anyone else. But each of us – myself included – must be careful to foster an environment that allows for much needed discussions to take place if we hope to bring about change and realize progress in the fight for equality.
Oreos to go: Let’s allow each other to get a word in edge-wise.
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday, when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.